Joseph Jackowski

University of Michigan | Biopsychology

Marine Corps | Fire Direction Controlman

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About Joseph:

Born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, I joined the Marine Corps in 2011, immediately after high school. I served the majority of my four-year enlistment as a Fire Direction Controlman, an artilleryman, with the 11th Marine Regiment in Camp Pendleton, California. I deployed with M Battery as part of an auxiliary force designed to bolster security in Bahrain.

During my time in, a series of personal challenges coalesced, dismantled my moral framework, and resulted in a years-long depression. I had questioned the meaning of life and the nature, and justification, of moral systems. Since leaving the Corps in 2015, I began reading heavily on the topic of meaning. All throughout my time at Harper College, in Palatine, Illinois, I explored the meaning-terrain. Leo Tolstoy, Viktor Frankl, Ernest Becker, Jordan Peterson, and several other prolific authors helped me fill in the corners of the meaning-map.

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harper College, I transferred to the University of Michigan to pursue my interest in the psychology of meaning. My current major is Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience, with a minor in Philosophy. In May 2020, I completed my honors thesis, “With Highest Honors,” which was on veterans, the use of generic language, and meaning-making.

Outside of academics, I’ve been the Community Involvement Chair, Secretary, and, now, the President of the Student Veterans of America, UM chapter. I am also a mentor in the Washtenaw County Veterans’ Treatment Court, mentoring veterans who have been in trouble with the law, with issues as serious as opioid addiction. I am also on the Campus Climate Advisory Council. Finally, in my free time, I am an Axe Master, teaching and supervising the throwing of axes at Axe Ventura, a local veteran-owned business.

I will graduate in December 2020 and will pursue a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, with the ultimate goal of fostering a sense of meaning in employees while continuing my research.


Joseph’s Posts:


Finding Purpose in Higher Education

Every military serviceman or woman who has chosen to leave their established ordered life in the military has taken a chaotic risk. The broad expectations provided by deployment cycles and the everyday concretized routines provided grounding for their lives. When they chose to leave that ordered world, they cut their moors and, inevitably, found themselvesContinue reading “Finding Purpose in Higher Education”

Searching for a University: Considering the Chicago Principles

            In recent years the definition of the University has been in flux. As NYU psychologist Jonathan Haidt has noted[1], the university is oscillating between truth and social justice. The competition between these values has been seen on campuses across the United States for several years. The shout-downs at Yale[2], the meltdown at Evergreen[3], the creationContinue reading “Searching for a University: Considering the Chicago Principles”

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